Once upon a time in Iowa, we were in the middle of a tour and my allergies were killing me. And I mean, killing me. I woke up and barely had a voice. I was doing my best not to panic being that we had two more shows before our next day off.
We had noticed a sign for the local coffee shop by the exit off the highway near our hotel so in the morning decided to head over there and see if I could get a hot tea or something.
When we pulled up we noticed it was pretty quiet, but the whole town was quiet so that didn’t concern us much. As we walked up toward the front door a woman came around the side of the building carrying a box.
“You folks here for some coffee?”
“Yes,” we said
“Well, we’re closed. But if that capable gentlemen right there wouldn’t mind helping me with these boxes I will happily make you some coffee”
He didn’t even pause.
Which is how I ended up alone in a refreshingly air-conditioned dining room beautifully decorated with antique tea sets while He hauled several loads of boxes from the back of the building to her car out front. Ahhh.
Meet Laura. She’s just about the nicest person ever. She’s loading up her car to head out to her sister’s wedding for the weekend, but first, she hops behind the counter for a couple of strangers with a big smile and says “What can I get ‘cha?”
I love her.
He orders an Americano, and she goes to work making the biggest and most precisely measured coffee I’ve ever seen. While she’s working her magic behind the counter we chat and get to know each other.
She hands His glorious coffee over and watches as He adds the cream and sugar. She suddenly freezes in her tracks.
“You’re doing that wrong.”
She delivered it like a sommelier watching in horror as someone uncorks a 1972 Montrachet Domaine Romanee Conti and drinks straight from the bottle
without allowing it to breathe first.
[gasps of shock]
“You are doing coffee… wrong.”
She goes on to explain that if you’re adding both cream and sugar, you have to add the sugar first or the cream will cool the coffee to the point where the sugar won’t melt. That’s why it’s always in a giant pile in the bottom of your cup which can throw the flavor balance off. Because you’re doing it wrong. Maintaining eye contact with you. Do you hear me? Do it right next time. I will forgive you for now.
I love her.
She turns to me. “And what can I get you?” “Actually,” I tell her “my allergies are killing me. I’m starting to lose my voice and I have to sing tonight. I was hoping some tea and lemon might help?”
And here’s where it really gets amazing. (If it wasn’t already) “Oh no! Well, we’re going to get that fixed up right this second.” She pulls out a spoon and starts asking me all my symptoms. With every answer, she opens another container of tea and adds a few spoonfuls of whatever is inside. She even disappeared into the back and got out a container of tea that wasn’t even on the shelf with the others. She goes over all the honey on the shelf finding a very specific kind. She steeped it using a timer. She put the honey and lemon in it herself. When she handed it to me she said, “Here. This is perfect.” A statement of fact.
And it was. The first sip gave instant relief to my sore throat. Breathing the steam made my sinuses relax. The scent made the rest of me relax.
I love her.
She went on to make a travel kit. She found an old steeper and poured local honey in a Ziploc bag for me and a big bag of that custom tea blend she just totally MADE UP on the spot.
And then refused payment.
Because we’re traveling musicians and we’re all one big family and didn’t God put us on this earth to help each other?
We covered her in presents and hugs before we left. And followed her on Facebook. And I used the tea the way she recommended and it worked 100%. My voice was fine for the rest of the tour.
Meet Laura. One of the owners of Reid’s Beans Coffee Shoppe Cafe in West Branch, Iowa. Please support her business. She sure as hell supported ours.